Aimee Sadler: Founder & CEO

Aimee Sadler is the Founder and CEO of Dogs Playing for Life™…An Enrichment Program for Shelter Dogs Featuring Playgroups.  Ms. Sadler is a nationally recognized trainer specializing in behavioral problems. Her techniques have been derived from over thirty years of professional work with multiple species, from dogs to cats, from exotics to marine mammals.

Aimee’s childhood passion for animals turned into a career in 1987 at the onset of her apprenticeship to Magic Mountain’s dolphin and sea lion show in southern California. From there Aimee was offered a position of leadership at the park’s wild animal show where she performed on stage with exotic animals in addition to touring with the creatures to better educate children. From her innate desire to help animals she then took a position with the American Humane Association, responsible for the monitoring of  “animal actors”. This exposure resulted in her transition as the compound manager of Birds and Animals Unlimited, one of Hollywood’s top animal training facilities. Aimee then founded the animal rentals division of Fourth Cub Productions, Inc., where she supplied well-trained animals for numerous television commercials and music videos.

Over the years while Aimee developed her private dog training business, she maintained strong affiliations with rescue organizations. Since 1998, Aimee’s main interest has been working with shelter dogs  after her private client sent her to the Southampton Animal Shelter to spend her session time working with the their dogs instead of her own. Ever since, Aimee’s vision has been to create enrichment and  training programs that would prove to be invaluable to the well-being of dogs in shelters everywhere. 

Dogs Playing for Life™ seminars and trainings have been provided to more than 250 organizations internationally. Aimee presents consistently at animal welfare and professional dog training conferences, such as HSUS’ Animal Expo, Best Friend’s Annual Conference, Masters in Behavior Conference, the No Kill Conference and the International Association of Canine Professionals Conference. Aimee’s programs have assisted multiple shelters in achieving industry leading success as open admission shelters saving more than 95% of their shelter dogs! 

In recognition of her work, Aimee has been honored with the Henry Bergh Leadership Award in 2011 and the Maddie’s Fund Hero Award in 2018  in addition to being inducted into the Members Hall of Fame for the International Association of Canine Professionals. From the popularity of the program and the measured results in life-saving, Dogs Playing for Life™ has been featured in the Television Series, ‘Shelter Me – New Beginnings’ airing on PB and Netflix as well as being the inaugural recipient of the Petco Foundation ‘Love in Action Award’. In 2017 DPFL opened its first National Canine Center in Florida to serve as an advanced training and behavior center for unowned dogs needing some extra help prior to placement, and for the purpose of mentoring and cultivating shelter canine trainers. 

Aimee currently resides in Longmont, CO, with her husband and their very full family of furry and non-furry beings. 

Emily Grossheider: Chief Operations Officer

Emily Grossheider Dogs Playing for Life

Emily was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area where her love for pets blossomed. After graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, Emily accepted a position at a local animal shelter where she had the privilege of leading a team in increasing adoptions by more than 100%-and became hooked by the purposeful work animal sheltering provided.

Following her tenure at DAWG, Emily became the Director of the Santa Ynez Humane Society. In her ongoing efforts to improve the training of her staff and ultimately enrich the lives of the animals in her charge, Emily met the Dogs Playing for Life team, which she enthusiastically joined as Director of Development in 2015. Since then, Emily has earned accreditation as a Certified Animal Welfare Administrator (CAWA), been promoted to Chief Operations Officer at DPFL, and has earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration, with an emphasis on nonprofit management. 


Emily lives in Santa Barbara, California in a very full home with two dogs and a cat. In her free time, she can be found on the beach or teaching her 4 nieces and nephew how to beg their mothers for (another) rescue puppy.

Rhea Moriarity: Chief Programs Officer

Rhea grew up in a small town on the western slope of Colorado. She was surrounded by ranches and farms and grew up with multiple dogs, cats, chickens, goats, and various other animals. After graduating from Pacific University in Oregon, Rhea returned to Colorado and, after several years working in different medical settings, she started volunteering at Longmont Humane Society where she met Aimee Sadler and was inspired to make a wholesale career change into animal welfare.

In 2010, after volunteering for 4 years, Rhea began working at Longmont Humane Society (LHS) as the Public Training Program Coordinator. Ultimately, she was promoted to Director of Operations in 2018 and focused on making sure that LHS maintained playgroups and progressive programming to ensure enhanced quality of life for all animals that came through the doors. In 2023 she jumped at the opportunity to join DPFL full-time as the Chief Programs Officer and she is excited about the opportunity to help dogs on a national level through the many programs that DPFL offers.

Rhea currently lives in Florida and enjoys spending time with her two rescue dogs, both of whom came from DPFL’s Canine Center Florida after graduating from their individualized, extensive training programs.

Aaron Caldwell: Director of Shelter Programming

Aaron Caldwell began his work with Austin Pets Alive! in February of 2011. After spending over a year with the organization as a Lead Adoption Counselor, Aaron was given the opportunity and privilege to join the behavior team as the Dog Behavior Program Assistant Manager. Under the tutelage and guidance of Mike Kaviani, a former leader at Dogs Playing for Life, Aaron worked as a playgroup facilitator, adoption/foster follow up coordinator/trainer, and spent time helping with the behavior modification and rehabilitation of APA!’s shelter population. In the summer of 2016, Aaron took on the role of Dog Behavior Program Co-Manager, and spent his time collaborating as much as possible to keep Austin a lifesaving city. In December of 2020, Aaron transition into a role at AmPA! and utilized his knowledge to help shelters across the country to achieve greater lifesaving in their own communities. In 2021, Aaron joined the DPFL team as Director of Shelter Programming where he mentors shelters in quality of life and lifesaving programs centered around playgroups!

Lauren Revier: Director of Research & Programs

Lauren Revier developed a deep love for dogs at a young age, but her formal introduction to animal welfare came in 2013 when she started volunteering at Longmont Humane Society. She was so drawn to the dogs, the people, and the work that she applied for a job and began facilitating animal intakes and adoptions while still volunteering her time walking and learning to handle more challenging dogs. From 2014 to 2016, Lauren held the position of Public Training Program Coordinator, overseeing the public dog training and adoption follow-up programs. She left this position in 2016 but continues to teach public training classes every week. Upon leaving her full-time job at Longmont Humane Society, Lauren worked for four years at a criminal justice consulting firm where she conducted research, administered surveys, and wrote reports and implementation guides. Lauren was thrilled to return to animal welfare in 2019 when she joined DPFL as its Shelter Support Coordinator. She holds a master’s degree in Criminology, Law, and Society and lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her husband and their three dogs. As Director of Research and Programs, Lauren is responsible for measuring DPFL’s impact and ensuring its programs are continually improving. She loves getting to connect with shelter staff, volunteers, and adopters from all over the country.

Presenters and Leads

Max Benton: Lead Trainer & Presenter

Max grew up with dogs and pets of all kinds his entire life. When he was 14, he began volunteering at the Longmont Humane Society, and began working as an Animal Care Technician as soon as he turned 18. After a year Max transitioned to the Training and Behavior Team at the humane society. During his 7 years working on this team, Max was introduced to both his own dog Petzl and to Dogs Playing For Life and transitioned to working as an employee for them after getting his associate’s degree in Social Psychology.

Chris Rheaume: Training & Behavior Manager

Chris was ‘bitten’ by the canine training bug at a young age. In fact, according to Chris, he was literally bitten by just about every dog in his neighborhood growing up. This led to an interest in understanding dogs better as a whole while recognizing they’re each an individual too. With a passion for those high-energy, high-drive dogs that typically struggle the most in shelters, Chris understands the importance of outlets and how they can help dogs learn better and improve their quality of life in the process!

Melody Perry: Shelter Programming Coordinator

Melody started her dog training journey volunteering at Austin Pets Alive in 2017, then joined their behavior staff in 2018 with Aaron Caldwell as a behavior manager and mentor. Melody took lead of APA’s playgroup program in 2019 and worked to maintain then expand their program, keeping DPFL’s “Every Dog Every Day” motto at the forefront. Melody collaborated with APA’s vets developing protocols to allow undervaccinated puppies the opportunity to socialize in controlled environments. Melody also used the principles of Behavior Adjustment Training to develop a protocol for working with dogs who couldn’t join off-leash playgroups due to offensive and/or uninterruptible behaviors towards dogs. Melody was able to progress some of these dogs, improving their attention to handler and stimulus control around other dogs, reaching a point where they could get back to off-leash playgroups with other dogs. One notable dog, Vin Diesel (aka a real “wrecking ball”) now lives in foster with two female dogs and has met several potential adopters’ dogs successfully in search of his forever fit. For cases where a dog’s demeanor improved on leash, but they still couldn’t quite make the leap to off-leash play time, Melody worked with skilled volunteers to develop a tandem walking program so dogs could continue building their skills and have more opportunities to learn, grow, and get out of kennel enrichment. In 2021 Melody took on a new position with APA to build out a daycare program for their foster dogs. This made good use of all the kennels gained from APA’s big push towards a foster-centric model during the COVID pandemic. Daycare allowed fosters to drop their dogs off in the morning to join in APA’s existing playgroups throughout the day, then get picked back up by their fosters in the evening. In many cases, dogs would be seen by increased adoption traffic on weekends, in kennel or in the playgroup yard, and were often adopted that same day! After 6.5 years with APA, it was time to progress and grow, bringing Melody to DPFL in 2024. Melody learned to teach DPFL’s playgroup Mentorship I at Austin Pets Alive, and now travels to other shelters teaching them how to playgroup and bolster their existing programs. Melody is thrilled to join DPFL and continue learning and growing with their impressive team.

Lanesha Jones: Lead Trainer

Originally from Ohio, Lanesha has always had an interest in animals from a young age. When she was seventeen, she moved to Florida with her family and started volunteering at SPCA Florida and got to know the staff and fell in love with working with the dogs. Shortly after graduation, she got a job at SPCA Florida and was there for two years when she became interested in the behavioral side of things. During her two years at the SPCA, she got to know Connie Johnson, who was in charge of the behavior team and also a board member for Dogs Playing For Life. Connie offered Lanesha a chance to further her career in animal welfare and she jumped at the opportunity to join the Dogs Playing For Life team. Now, Lanesha is a trainer at DPFL’s Canine Center Florida, where she works with shelter dogs to give the dogs what they need to help them be successful on their journey.

Patrick Smith: Lead Trainer

Patrick Smith is a New Englander who made his way down to Florida to spend time with some more interesting dogs than he knew at the dog daycares up north. He’s got a hound companion he enjoys hiking and traveling with. His favorite parts of the job are finding creative ways to make progress when a dog is “stuck,” and seeing dogs graduate from CCF.


Caley Piper: Trainer

Caley is originally from Parker, Colorado. Before starting in animal welfare, she was a registered behavior technician for children with developmental disabilities. She transitioned to the animal care industry in 2020, in a leadership position at a high-volume boarding and daycare facility. She quickly saw how beneficial the principles used in ABA therapy were when applied to her interactions with the animals.

After moving to Florida and starting full time work at a Humane Society, Caley became determined to utilize these skills to create more opportunities for dogs that were struggling behaviorally. She discovered DPFL’s learning library through word of mouth and was inspired to learn more. Through webinars, mentorships, and seminars, she began to realize new possibilities when it comes to quality of life in a shelter. Not only for the dogs, but for the staff, volunteers, and potential adopters as well. She sought out every resource she could to learn about playgroup and behavior modification, and dedicated herself to expanding this knowledge by presenting it to others in the industry. Caley started working at DPFL in April of 2023, and meets each day excited to gain more knowledge and grow in her skills as a handler. Her dream is to inspire others to work together to find the best possible outcomes for shelter animals.

Ashley Sandel: Trainer

Ashley has been working in animal rescue for five years and came to DPFL to learn more about dogs with behavior challenges. Her favorite thing to do with the dogs is teaching them new things– from the basics like “sit” and “place” to complex tricks like picking something up off the ground and handing it to a person. She loves hearing from shadow students and mentees about how DPFL programming inspires them to keep doing the work and to help dogs at their home shelters. Ashley has two dogs at home and lives in Alabama.

Danielle Hill: Handler

Danielle (Dani) Hill has always had a fondness for dogs, but it wasn’t until she adopted her heeler mix, Blue, that she got into the training side of dogs. In June of 2020, she started working at a boarding kennel in Texas that did a variety of training. Since then, she and Blue have attempted and trained for different sports including Scent Work, Barn Hunt, AKC Fast CAT and a pitiful attempt at agility training. Her true passion is with Scent Work and how teaching dogs how to use their nose can increase confidence! Dani first heard about Dogs Playing for Life when she went on an excursion through the IACP conference, where she won a scholarship. She really enjoyed visiting with the team, and applied to CCF shortly after. She resides in Texas with her three dogs and is very grateful for the opportunity that DPFL has given her to learn about behavior modification.

Kylie Simmons: Trainer

Kylie was raised in Panama City Beach, FL, where she volunteered at Bay County Humane Society quite often when she was younger. Kylie has always had a love for animals and has always had an animal in her life whether it be a guinea pig or dogs. When Kylie learned about Dogs Playing for Life and their mission, she was instantly excited to be a part of something bigger than herself and to join an organization that helps save the lives of so many dogs. Kylie recently adopted Izzo (pictured). She met him at CCF and absolutely fell in love with him immediately. Kylie is eager to learn more about dog behavior and the techniques DPFL uses to help them. She is inspired to be the medical coordinator at CCF and is so thankful for such an amazing opportunity to have a direct impact on dogs in need!

Malone Shumate: Handler

malone dogs playing for lifeMalone has always been drawn to animals. From a very young age she always helped to rescue frogs, nurture abandoned bunnies, and of course care for dogs. While in middle school Malone began volunteering at her local shelter where she fell in love with a dog and ended up adopting him! Her family “banned” her from volunteering again stating they had enough dogs. Little did they know that a few years later she would begin working there and her life would never be the same. While at this rescue Malone wore a variety of hats but no matter what position she was in her heart was always drawn to the behavior dogs. She is so excited to continue to expand her skills and knowledge in order to help as many dogs as possible.



Kodi Sadler: Director of Los Angeles Programming

Kodi Sadler Lead Trainer Presenter DPFL

Kodi Sadler is proud to be one of Dogs Playing for Life’s Lead Instructors providing playgroup training to shelters internationally. His love of all dogs and his comfort working with large groups has been a prevalent part of his life since before he can remember. As Aimee’s oldest son, his earliest memories include waddling around amidst the ever-changing large pack of owned and rescued dogs that cohabited with the Sadlers while in training. Kodi’s formal career in animal welfare began at the age of 17 when he started volunteering at the Longmont Humane Society. At age 18 he was invited to join the DPFL Team as an Instructor’s Assistant and fell in love with the work, inspiring him to complete his high school through a work-study. While Kodi now travels full time teaching for DPFL, he considers himself to be a student of animal welfare. With the road as his campus and the dogs as his teachers, Kodi intends to continue learning as much as he can about the work that will be a part of his life forever. Kodi is passionate about playgroups and the positive impact they have on animals and people.

Stephen Davis: Canine Enrichment Coordinator

Stephen Davis was born and raised in the South Bay area near Los Angeles, CA. He is a lifelong lover of animals with a specific connection to canines. When Stephen learned that DPFL for the first time in its history, was hiring a permanent enrichment coordinator inside a Los Angeles shelter, he knew he had to apply for the position. In 1995, he was sentenced to Life Without the possibility of Parole (LWOP). Thankfully in 2018 after 23 years of incarceration, with the help of his wife Adrienne and backed by community and unwavering family support, he was commuted by Governor Brown and re-sentenced to 25 to life, giving him the opportunity to be considered for parole. While still incarcerated, in 2019 he became a trainer with Paws for Life K9 rescue, where he attended a seminar hosted by Dogs Playing for Life. During this time, he learned of DPFL’s philosophy of playgroup enrichment. In June of 2022, Stephen paroled after 27 years, and hit the ground running with Paws for Life which provided him with a job within his first month home. Now proudly representing DPFL, through socialization & playgroup enrichment, Stephen can help give shelter dogs a second chance a life – just as he himself has been given. He is very proud to be the first hire for this program and is looking to the future in ways to strengthen it and help continue its success.

Stephanie Diaz: Canine Enrichment Coordinator

Stephanie Diaz discovered her love for animals while working at the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2008. It was the animals’ unique behaviors that captivated her curiosity, which further extended to her fondness of canines. She was set on starting her career working with canines full-time and started working at doggy daycares, had steady pet sitting gigs, and eventually taught basic training skills from 2010-2019. Stephanie eventually moved back to her hometown of McAllen, TX, and in 2020 she once again had the opportunity to work with canines at her local animal shelter. Initially starting as an animal care technician, she was later elected to head their pilot enrichment program with the goal of leading DPFL-style playgroups 7 days a week. One year later and the program turned into a department of 3 Canine Enrichment Coordinators, with Stephanie leading the team. She is now the newest Enrichment Coordinator with DPFL at the South Los Angeles Chesterfield Animal Shelter, and is looking forward to growing her knowledge of canine behavior. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys the outdoors and trying new things.

Grace Glass: Canine Enrichment Coordinator

Grace grew up in Northern California where she first started working with dogs at a doggy daycare. While she was in school in San Luis Obispo, she continued working with animals through her hands-on education in Animal Science at Cal Poly while also working for a dog trainer. In fall 2023, she moved to Los Angeles to start working as a Canine Enrichment Coordinator for DPFL. Grace enjoys hiking and backpacking and her favorite animal is a chicken.

Canine Center Florida Team

Yancey Cushman: Operations Manager

Yancey Cushman was raised with large dogs and horses and has had every kind of animal possible. She started training dogs at a young age and, throughout her middle and high school years, she volunteered at a local humane society training dogs and assisting with adoptions. Yancey spent more than 9 years as a vet tech before joining the DPFL family in 2021. Her favorite part of the job is getting to watch the dogs thrive in CCF’s wonderful program and getting to see what these “Diamonds in the Ruff” can become!

Amber Dubrule: Canine Care Attendant

Amber is originally from Panama City and moved to Lake City to take care of her grandpa. She learned about DPFL through her brother, who worked at CCF at the time. Amber loves her job! Amber lives with her two dogs Faith, a white pit, and Marley, a miniature pit, her cat, Spooky, and her ferret, Swiper! When she’s not working, Amber loves watching her fiancé race on weekends, hunting, fishing, watching scary movies, and playing with her animals!

Shannon Sloan: Canine Care Attendant

Shannon Sloan is originally from Tallahassee, Florida, but grew up in Swanton, Vermont. After graduation, she wanted to be closer to family and hopefully start a career working with dogs, as she has always had a love for animals. When Shannon’s not at work, she’s home spending time with her pup, Brantley. Shannon is hoping to learn more and further her education and knowledge about dogs.

Eliza Burnham: Canine Care Attendant

Eliza is a country girl raised in a small town called Live Oak, FL. She has always had a passion for helping others, especially those on four legs. When she is not working, she enjoys spending the day at the beautiful springs Florida has to offer. Her dogs Oscar and Georgia love to load up in the vehicle and go for rides to the Suwannee River and nearby springs for swimming and sunbathing. Eliza is super excited to expand her handling skills and knowledge of dogs.


Dawn Beazlie: Executive Assistant

Dawn was born and raised in Illinois, where she graduated from the University of Illinois. There she graduated with degrees in Psychology and Human Services. She has always had a passion for understanding behavior. Her curiosity remains in the study of behavior but has evolved to work with dogs. This curiosity has led her to many years of volunteering with local rescues & working with dogs as a trainer, vet tech, and boarding kennel owner. Her involvement with DPFL began with webinars and participating in the Shadow Program. After those programs, she knew she wanted to remain involved with DPFL. Her current role in the organization is Executive Assistant. Dawn now lives in Florida with her husband and two daughters on a small hobby farm with many rescue animals, including dogs, cats, pigs, and horses, to just list a few.

Florida Team

Samantha Benesch: Canine Enrichment Coordinator, Jacksonville

Nine years ago, Samantha moved down to Jacksonville, FL from Chicago, IL and started working in animal care. She has been training dogs in and out of facilities since 2015. After working in the veterinary field and at the local humane society, she found her passion working with shelter dogs. With four rescue dogs of her own, quality of life and second chances are Samantha’s true goals. She started working for DPFL in 2023 as a Canine Enrichment Coordinator at Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services.

Jessica Register: Regional Canine Enrichment Coordintor

Jessica has always been around dogs, starting from a young age, and couldn’t imagine a life without them! Jessica’s professional journey includes a role at the Jacksonville Humane Society, where she developed a passion for working with shelter animals, emphasizing enrichment activities. While at the shelter, Jessica discovered Dogs Playing for Life and was drawn to their mission. Motivated by the opportunity to assist other shelters, she decided to join Dogs Playing for Life, eager to contribute to the implementation of enrichment programs, including playgroups, across various locations.

Maria Pantin: Regional Canine Enrichment Coordintor

Maria Pantin immigrated to the United States as a child from Venezuela. She grew up in New Jersey and eventually made her way to Florida. She is a Certified Behavior Consultant, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and holds a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. Maria started her professional career working with children and families seeking mental health resources before eventually transitioning into animal welfare. Over the years, Maria has worked in many parts of the industry; working with private clients to provide training and guidance to help their dogs thrive in their homes, running training programs at a doggie day care as well as a retail store, and working as a behavior consultant at county shelters as well as non-profit shelters. Maria’s shelter journey began as a volunteer at local shelters during her down time as a trainer and consultant. Eventually those shelters approached Maria to join their teams as an employee so she could spend even more time working with their dogs and staff. When she’s home, Maria loves to spend time with her three rescue pets (two dogs and a cat!). In 2024, Maria joined Dogs Playing for Life as a Canine Enrichment Coordinator in Florida.

Board of Directors

Board Member 1

Pic & Text

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